The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to vastly expand its power. Last year, the agency paid nearly $700,000 to the National Academy of Sciences to draft the document “Sustainability and the U.S. EPA.” This manifesto rationalizes why the EPA has the right to regulate every business, community and ecosystem in the country.
The key to the EPA’s regulatory control is “ sustainability,” an illusive and ill-defined term even more broadly applicable than the interstate commerce clause. According to the EPA’s website, “Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”
What can the EPA therefore regulate? Everything. Because everything depends on our natural environment. Can you use that? Not if we decide some other use is more important. What if my claim is most important? The EPA can decide that future generations have an even more critical claim. Are humans important? Yes, but no more important than nature, and it is our purview to speak for nature and adjudicate dispute so that both can exist in productive harmony.
One of my undergraduate degrees at Stanford was in philosophy. There I enjoyed studying not only logic, but also logical fallacies. The EPA’s regulatory reach is based on several fallacious assumptions.